The History of Economic Thought Website

With the support of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), the History of Economic Thought Website has been re-launched.

It is an excellent resource and provides an Alphabetical Index of Economists, Schools of Thought and a collection of Essays and Surveys.

The Essays and Surveys section includes an “Edgeworthian Exchange” link dedicated to Edgeworth’s Tales and The Edgeworthian Revival. Aside from the obvious Irish connections, this link is a fascinating read and might be of particular interest to some.

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15 thoughts on “The History of Economic Thought Website”

  1. Thanks for the link.

    Economic thought today is in serious trouble given the fact that the richest 1% of Yanks own 42% of everything in the US. QE is sold as inflationary. Given the above it is actually deflationary.

  2. I came across this website previously and found it interesting, reasonably comprehensive and quite idiosyncratic. It doesn’t seem to have changed much.

    On the “interesting” front it appears possible to contend that most of these “Schools of Thought” that have emerged over time were responding to actual or perceived economic problems or to failures of the existing body of “received wisdom” to address these problems (or a combination of both). The current dominance of necoclassical economics and its smothering dominance of most areas of economic inquiry have rendered most of these schools as historical curiosities. This smothering dominance is both reflected in and is a reflection of a mainstream governing consensus that satisfices corporate capitalist elites, high net worth individuals, the governing politicians and senior officials they have suborned, a range of embedded special interests and the wide array of functionaries they retain in a web of officially authorised collusive corruption that, up to now, has secured the grudging consent of a majority of voters in most advanced economies. And it should not be surprising that this governing consensus has been pulled over time from a reliance on statist solutions to a preference for “leave it to the markets” – which, in most instances, means leaving it to well-placed capitalists and special interests to divide the spoils at the expense of ordinary citizens and without any effective market governance or regulation in the public interest.

    Most economists, both academic and non-academic, to some extent or other, are embedded in this mainstream governing consensus. However, quite a few continue to advance out-dated and largely discredited left-wing theories. The mainstream governing consensus, confident that they will fail to secure political traction, is happy to tolerate these leftwing critiques and by doing so effectively legitimises its dominance.

    But that mainstream governing consensus is under increasing and justified assault in most advanced economies. The assault is being conducted by a broad range of politicians across the political spectrum exploiting a wide variety of perfectly understandable popular discontents. Most mainstream economists have very little to say that contributes to an explanation of these discontents and to an outline of possible remedies. Their silence is perfectly understandable. But it is not in the public interest, nor, ultimately, in their own interests.

    In the Irish context it appears that it is being left to a handful of commentators and journalists (such as those in today’s Indo: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/) to address the issues.

    And so we get fairly radical suggestions, such as this from Brendan Keenan on the so-called housing crisis: “This is one of those moments for government to take over the market and apply all the powers of the State to build dwellings at a faster rate than even its present plans. This could require overturning existing zonings, tearing up planning legislation for a period, applying punitive taxes or compulsory purchases on undeveloped land and awarding big contracts to foreign builders.”

    And we have an Irish Economy blog which reveals precious little economic analysis of the most pressing current concerns.

  3. 3 things are happening

    1. Central Banks are unable to generate inflation and growth so their models are all wrong . QE is not working. But that was never the point of QE.

    2 Debt continues to be pumped into a debt saturated global economy

    3 Interest rates continue to fall .

    The lower interest rates go the higher the present value of debt and the wealth of the richest 1% . Rates can go a lot lower than 0%.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/92ccee5e-0345-11e6-af1d-c47326021344.html”:The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow model estimates first-quarter GDP growth at just 0.3 per cent. This extends the long-running conundrum of punchy jobs growth combined with damp GDP data, Mr Bullard said, adding his bank’s model had been repeatedly indicating that 3 per cent growth was “just around the corner” and this was not happening. “

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/368ef430-1e24-11e6-a7bc-ee846770ec15.html “For the first time since 2012, cash, short-term investments and liquid long-term investments slipped below debt maturities due over the next five years, Moody’s found. Total debts rose nearly $850bn last year to $6.6tn, a separate report from S&P showed, which put overall cash levels in the US at a slightly higher $1.8tn. While cash had increased by about $600bn over the past five years, obligations surged by $2.8tn. The increased leverage has been concentrated in smaller and lower quality groups that took advantage of record-low borrowing costs spurred by stimulative monetary policy. ”

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/368ef430-1e24-11e6-a7bc-ee846770ec15.html “Investors have pointed to the drop in sovereign debt yields as they buy up corporate bonds, with nearly $10tn of debt trading with a negative yield.”

    We are in a phase called debt deflation.

    It is all described at length in an economics paper from the 1930s by Irving Fisher
    https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/docs/meltzer/fisdeb33.pdf

  4. Ta for link:

    On the ‘looting economy’ of today … and most recent IMF capitulation

    MAY 26, 2016
    The Looting Stage of Capitalism: Germany’s Assault on the IMF
    by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

    ‘Greece is being destroyed by the EU that it so foolishly joined and trusted. The same thing is happening to Portugal and is also underway in Spain and Italy. The looting has already devoured Ireland and Latvia (and a number of Latin American countries) and is underway in Ukraine.’

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/05/26/the-looting-stage-of-capitalism-germanys-assault-on-the-imf/

    Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.

    1. DOD I ran some numbers. Take a bond yielding 5% over 10 years. Priced at 5% interest it has a present value of 100.

      Should the yield fall to 1.84%, which is the current US Treasury 10 year yield, the value of the bond jumps to 128.6. Assume ever more debt is created and US yields go to zero. The value of the bond is now 150.

      What is the point of investing in the real economy when the magic of debt generates such returns? Say even more debt is created and yields go to minus 2%. The bond is now worth 178. The lower rates go the more logical it is to issue more debt. Putting it all together, rates can go a lot lower than 0%.

  5. As Oscar Wilde put it: “One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing.” The impotent rantings of those still in thrall to outdated, discredited left-wing ideology are a death rattle that puts them in the same category as the death of little Nell.

    However, and largely unrelated to these rants, the point of intersection between the theory of economic policy and its practical and pragmatic application appears to be shifting:
    http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2016/06/ostry.htm

    This paper by three IMF staffers focuses on the perils of the exploitation of capital account liberalisation in the absence of supportive and restraining policies and on the detriments of “austerity” – properly defined as excessive and unnecessary fiscal contraction to satisfy misguided political or ideological ends – while highlighting the beneficial impacts of the Washington consensus.

    All of this is way above the pay-grade of most Irish economists, politicians, policy-makers and administrators – though Ireland will be involved in the process via the EU, the OECD, the World Bank and the IMF.

    It would make far for sense for these parties in Ireland to focus on reducing the collusive corruption that characterises the sheltered private, public and semi-state sectors and to address the fiscal implications of compensating so many citizens for the detrimental impacts of the resulting rent-seeking.

  6. seafóid

    Ta for that! I usually give all hard sums to Jacinta Heisenberg from Ballybrack … but a savvy high infants grad could follow your logic ….

    So we are in a ‘looting economy’ … Blacksthone playing Schrodinger in both advising the Gov and buying up ‘distressed’ (sic) assets such as Burlington … ditto with the matrixsQuid … and Ulster Bank giving the eviction notices to the Vultures …. to be followed by AIB etc … FG as supine as FF in their most recent Special Purpose Vehicle as feudal financial system branch managers …

    And the stupidity of the SGP …. when we could borrow 10-15 Billion or so to come to the aid of the hapless citizenry …

    Were Cicero around today he would lead a revolution to overthrow the supine senates … and hitch a ride on a helicopter to parachute into the ECB …. and totally reverse its QE illogic!

    Keep up the good work: your methods are strange and may cause surprise … to make the blind see you throw dust in their eyes [with apologies to Blind Biddy and Jimmy J.]

  7. @IMF

    Remember the high infants distinction between ‘thought’ and ‘action’!

    Austerity policies do more harm than good, IMF study concludes

    Economists give strong critique of neoliberal doctrine ushered in by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s
    ‘The three IMF research department economists – Jonathan Ostry, Prakash Loungani and Davide Furceri – said the benefits of some important parts of the neoliberal agenda appeared to have been overplayed, while the risks from short-term flows of hot money in and out of countries loomed large.
    “In the case of fiscal consolidation, the short-run costs in terms of lower output and welfare and higher unemployment have been underplayed, and the desirability for countries with ample fiscal space of simply living with high debt and allowing debt ratios to decline organically through growth is underappreciated.”
    They concluded that the increase in inequality threatened to be self-defeating. “The increase in inequality engendered by financial openness and austerity might itself undercut growth, the very thing that the neoliberal agenda is intent on boosting. There is now strong evidence that inequality can significantly lower both the level and the durability of growth.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/may/27/austerity-policies-do-more-harm-than-good-imf-study-concludes

    1. Neoliberalism is fubr. It killed the Republican party as well. Buiochas le Dia.

      The absence of capital controls is destroying the Swiss economy via death by a thousand macro cuts. The CHF is 40% overvalued.

      The article failed to mention that the memes of neoliberalism are nonsense. Increasing the money supply does not generate inflation.

      Interesting snippet in the Indo yesterday. Interest ion Irelands 200bn debt costs 3400 per head . Should neoliberalism go trina chéile and rates shoot up Ireland will be toast .Arís

    2. HT for seafóid and DOD: ‘growth’ – as in the rate-of, which is an annual compounding entity, seems to be heading for dY/dt = 0. Similar to what’s-his-name’s bankruptcy: slowly at first, then quickly. We seem to have achieved all the ‘heavy economic lifting’ with technologies that were invented and widely deployed during the last century. The so-called digital economies (1990-2004) are merely the icing on that cake. You cannot finesse Nature with PR. This is what the neo-liberals have achieved: a cute, nasty, sustained and mendacious PR campaign. So far, its been a “great success”.

      Robert Gordon (2016): “The Rise and Fall of American Growth: the US standard of living since the Civil War”.

      1. The global economy isn’t even run for growth now. The name of the game is making it nice for bonds. It has come so much since the Anglo hedgies got 100 cents on the Euro. Deflationary QE across the OECD. The lower yields go the higher the value of bonds. SnP500 companies are now vehicles for buybacks . Capex is a thing of the past. Revenues are stagnant. Bonds are sucking diesel.

  8. USD 10.4 tn in neg yield bonds . Unprecedented. Sign of a dead ideology
    Will get a lot worse too.

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/37eb6964-2908-11e6-8ba3-cdd781d02d89.html

    “No matter how well-written or delivered, a speech cannot divert whole societies from a well-established course of action. Policies in motion tend to remain in motion; to change the trajectory of a deeply-entrenched set of initiatives requires the application of political forces of equal momentum. ”

    And that means destroying neoliberalism

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